We know that good hygiene, washing your hands, and maintaining distance from others can boost your immunity, but what about diet? The answer is clear – diet definitely plays a role in boosting immunity.
Our bodies do a remarkable job already protecting us from the pathogens that cause diseases. Still, there are simple changes you can make to your nutritional habits that can impact your immune defenses.
Beyond getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and managing your stress, here are some nutritional choices you can make to increase your body’s ability to fight disease:
Pre- and Probiotics: The microbiome, or gut, is an essential part of the body’s immune response, producing proteins that help fight disease. Eating foods that promote the growth of healthy bacteria can help your body combat outside diseases.
Prebiotic foods such as garlic, onions, and artichokes feed healthy bacteria, and probiotic foods, such as yogurts with active cultures, kimchi, miso, and tempeh, contain helpful bacteria that keep our systems functioning.
Whole plants: While it is unnecessary to completely cut out meat to have a more healthy immune system, replacing highly processed foods with high amounts of saturated and trans fats is a healthy choice in many ways.
In addition, including whole plant foods that are not deep-fried provides the body with antioxidants and essential vitamins like vitamin C.
Healthy fats: We normally think about reducing fat when we think about creating a healthy nutrition plan, but without certain fats in our diet, we cannot process nutrients correctly.
Increasing your intake of olive oil and Omega-3 oils, such as those found in salmon, can increase your body’s ability to fight inflammation and make it better prepared to combat disease.
Balance: Perhaps the most important way to make sure your diet promotes immune health is to find balance. A diet heavy in refined sugar or corn syrup, with mostly fatty foods and hardly any vegetables, will lead to many health problems that can lower your immune response.
The same can be said for overindulgence in alcohol. As with a great many things in life, moderation is the key to immune health. A healthy diet contains enough water to keep you hydrated, enough fruits and vegetables to provide you with vitamins and minerals, and enough probiotics and healthy fats to keep your microbiome healthy.
Supplements: If you are unable to maintain a balanced diet, taking vitamin supplements, especially as you age, can also boost your overall health and immunity.
Despite the claims on the bottles on the supplement aisle, there is no magic pill that will prevent you from getting sick. However, vitamins C and D and minerals like zinc and magnesium have been shown to have a positive effect on the immune response.
When paired with regular exercise, proper hydration, and stress management, a diet like the one described above can bolster your body’s overall health and increase the natural defenses against disease.